Sister Helen Prejean, a world-renowned nun and anti-death penalty advocate, is protesting Attorney General Bill Barr receiving an award for “Christlike” behavior at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday, September 23.
Barr is set to be honored with the Christifideles Laici Award, which is given to public figures who “stir and promote a deeper awareness among all the faithful of the gift and responsibility they share … in the communion and mission of the Church,” according to the prayer breakfast’s website.
Barr Is to Receive the Award as His Justice Department Has Carried Out a Rash of Executions — 6 Since July
The award Barr is set to receive reads, “In Honor and Gratitude for Fidelity to the Church, Exemplary Selfless and Steadfast Service in the Lord’s Vineyard,” according to the prayer breakfast website.
The Catholic Church as a body, however, has since 2018 opposed the death penalty in all cases, as reported by NPR.
“No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also wrote in a 2005 statement.
The church’s position, many activists and Catholic scholars pointed out, appears at odds with the Department of Justice’s recent resumption of federal executions.
As reported by Heavy, after 17-year halt to executions over concerns of cruel and unusual methods, this year Barr’s justice department has so far put six federal inmates to death, including convicted killer William LeCroy on Tuesday.
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests issued a statement calling for the award to be reversed. The decision to give Barr the Christifideles Laici Award was “shocking, incomprehensible and scandalous,” according to the statement.
Prejean Voiced Her Opposition on Twitter Tuesday Night, Saying Barr’s Actions Were ‘In Direct Contradiction’ to the Church’s Teachings
Prejean, who has been a leading voice against the death penalty for decades, said on Twitter Tuesday night that Barr’s renewed push for federal executions contradicts Catholic teachigs.
“Why is the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast presenting an award to Attorney General Barr for ‘fidelity to the Church’ when he has ordered an unprecedented number of federal executions in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching on the death penalty?” she said.
Prejean also said that there is “nothig pro-life about our government rendering death row prisoners defenseless, strapping them down and killing them.”
“The cold, clinical lethal injection protocol doesn’t change the cause of death on the death certificate after an execution: homicide,” she added.
Heavy reached out to the NCPB for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
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